Letter to the Rockford Region: The Year in Review
As our region heads into 2017, it makes sense to look back and reflect on the significant progress the Rockford Region has made during 2016.
Just like the Chicago Cubs, we have hit some home runs but we also have had many singles and doubles as we put together a championship season:
- The 2016 Milken Institute Best-Performing Cities Index rated the Rockford Area as one of the fastest growing cities for job growth.
- In two of three of the most current reporting periods, the Rockford Region has led all other areas of the State of Illinois in job growth.
- In the one reporting period where we did not lead the State in job growth, our region’s unemployment level dropped to its lowest level since 2006.
- Since the fourth quarter of 2015, the Rockford Region’s Annual Employment Growth Rate (%) has consistently exceeded the U.S. Metro Average growth rate for all U.S. Metropolitan Areas.
- There is currently $1.5 billion being invested in capital projects in the Rockford Region.
- The largest capital project in the history of Rockford is currently under construction involving a new hospital at Riverside Blvd. and I-90.
- There are currently 5,000 open jobs in the Rockford Region with more to come.
- Chrysler is moving the production of the Jeep Cherokee from Ohio to the Belvidere plant. New manufacturing operations of several Chrysler suppliers are moving here as well.
- The Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) continues to grow with AAR now operational, a new terminal expansion under construction, and increased cargo traffic.
- The Park District and the RACVB continue to build our sports tourism traffic with aggressive plans.
- The Rockford downtown area is being reborn with new retail and residential activity.
- The region’s workforce pipeline is taking shape with the new NIU/RVC Engineering Program on the RVC campus, the new OSF School of Nursing is under construction on the RVC campus, and the new A&P Mechanics School at the airport is in operation.
As we reflect on the accomplishments of 2016, we can move forward into 2017 with confidence knowing that we have built a solid foundation for continued economic growth.
Mike Nicholas, President
Rockford Area Economic Development Council